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Author Archives: Karen R. Long

The New York Times And PBS NewsHour Team Up For A New Book Club

Jesmyn Ward, whose fiction is drawing comparisons to William Faulkner's, received a new honor this week: her 2017 novel, “Sing, Unburied, Sing,” will kick off a new book discussion led by the New York Times and the PBS NewsHour. Called Now Read This, the organizers hope to become a go-to resource for reading groups across the country. Ward, the only woman to win a National Book Award twice for fiction, continues to live in rural Mississippi, the source of her family life and much of her inspiration. Born in 1977, Ward attended Stanford University and had decided in 2008 to turn away from the writing life and, at her mother’s urging, enroll in nursing school when Agate Publishing picked up her first novel, “Where the Line Bleeds.” It tells of two brothers on divergent paths and... Read More →

READ: Marilyn Chin’s New Poem, “Love Story”

Marilyn Chin accepting her 2015 Anisfield-Wolf award for poetry Marilyn Chin is a frank and feminist poet who continues to enlarge the Anisfield-Wolf canon. Like Peter Ho Davies, she is a master of the hyphenated identity, writing, “ I am a Chinese American poet – born in Hong Kong and raised in Portland, Oregon. My poetry both laments and celebrates the ‘hyphenated’ identity.” Chin, a professor of English and comparative literature at San Diego State University, has a new poem reaching the 350,000 subscribers to the American Academy of Poet’s digitally delivered Poem-A-Day. Her new work is called “Love Story,” a perennial focus of Chin’s work. Her Anisfield-Wolf winning collection is called “Hard Love Province.” Of her new poem, the 62-year-old Chin says, “The... Read More →

Latest Inter|Urban Mural Celebrates Tyehimba Jess’ “Olio”

Tyehimba Jess is a strikingly architectural poet. It makes sense that his 14-line poem, “Blind Tom Plays for Confederate Troops, 1863” inspired the new Anisfield-Wolf InterIUrban mural from the artist Mike Perry. The new work braids along the right angle of two walls at Ford Drive and Hessler Road in Cleveland, Perry’s first project in this city. He created the 2015 wraparound mural at the Facebook offices in New York City and is probably best known for his colorful animation on “Broad City,” the Comedy Central series. While navigating a week of Midwestern October weather, Perry dropped in on the Cleveland School of the Arts, where he spoke to a morning class on street art. Wearing a bright blue sweatshirt with his motto “Don’t Give Up,” Perry brought a... Read More →

Cleveland Kids’ Book Bank Named Recipient Of 2017 Anisfield-Wolf Memorial Award

Cleveland Kids' Book Bank co-founders, Judy Payne (center) and Judi Kovach (right) receive their 2017 Anisfield-Wolf Memorial Award. Margaret Bernstein (left), director of advocacy and community initiatives for WKYC, introduced the women to each other. The Cleveland Kids’ Book Bank is a juggernaut. Less than 20 months after its founding in March 2016, it had distributed 848,583 free books to underserved children in Cuyahoga County. And as hard as it is to visualize that number – even standing in a warehouse staffed by 3,000 volunteers – the number of titles is shifting upward, faster than the weekly update on its website can track. For this tsunami of success, the Cleveland Kids’ Book Bank is the recipient of the 2017 Anisfield-Wolf Memorial Award, $25,000 given each fall to a... Read More →

Michelle Kuo’s “Reading With Patrick” Smashes Predictable White-Savior Tropes In The Classroom

Michelle Kuo, the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, describes herself as a shy child growing up in western Michigan who rarely raised her hand in class. But her first book, a memoir called "Reading with Patrick," has captured the accolades of two men who think deeply about education: James Forman, who teaches at Yale Law School and is the author of this year’s “Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America.” Arthur Evenchik, who coordinates the Emerging Scholars program at Case Western Reserve University Evenchik and Forman have posted a 2,500-word book review on The Atlantic website, concluding, “in all of the literature addressing education, race, poverty, and criminal justice, there has been nothing quite like 'Reading with Patrick.'” Patrick is... Read More →

On The Ground In Ferguson And Beyond: Wesley Lowery On Black Lives Matter And Police Fatalities

Thanks to Wesley Lowery and his colleagues at the Washington Post, citizens anywhere can click on the newspaper’s “Fatal Force” webpage and see the running tally of people who have been shot and killed by police this year. When Lowery, 27, returned to his hometown September 22, he looked up the number on his phone to answer a question at the City Club of Cleveland: 714. Less than a week later, it had ticked up to 730. Last year the total was 992 and in 2015, when Lowery and his team won a Pulitzer for creating the database from scratch, it was 963. Despite heightened awareness around police shootings, despite the protests of Black Lives Matter, the number dying is steady. It is tracking to come in again close to a 1,000 deaths this year, Lowery said. “It’s a pace of... Read More →

Congressman John Lewis Honored With Louis Stokes Community Award In Cleveland

U.S. Congress member John Lewis is short and bald and unfailingly humble. Before he could say a word during a quick September stop in Cleveland to accept the Louis Stokes Community Vision Award, a breakfast crowd of more than 500 gave the 77-year-old a thunderous standing ovation. Overhead in the Renaissance Hotel’s Grand Ballroom, the film trailer for “Selma” had spun out a brief, heart-clenching re-enactment of Bloody Sunday in 1965, when law enforcement officials beat Lewis unconscious on Alabama’s Edmund Pettis Bridge. The Canadian actor playing Lewis – Stephan James – appears in the trailer four times. A clip from the John Lewis episode of “Finding Your Roots” followed. It re-played the revelation that Tobias Carter, the Atlanta congress member’s... Read More →

Rita Dove Named One Of Time Magazine’s “Firsts”

Rita Dove, pictured here as the poet laureate in 1993Rita Dove, pictured here as the poet laureate in 1993 The September 18 double-issue of Time Magazine profiles 46 living women pioneers – among them Rita Dove, the former U.S. poet laureate and current Anisfield-Wolf Award juror. The list brims with astronauts and actresses, athletes and ambassadors, and a Nobel laureate in molecular biology. The only person to make the cut as a writer is Dove. Drawing from her years growing up in Akron, Ohio, she transformed American letters with Thomas and Beulah, her groundbreaking poetry collection inspired by her grandparents. Dove mentions this book in the first sentence of her Time Magazine essay, which appears under the headline “Raising hackles means you are not being ignored.” In the last paragraph, Dove, 65, writes... Read More →

Novelist Peter Ho Davies Accepts 2017 Chautauqua Prize, Muses On Identity And Nuance In “The Fortunes”

Peter Ho Davies holds up the 2017 Chautauqua Prize while speaking about his book The Fortunes July 12, 2017 in the Hall of Philosophy. DAVE MUNCH/PHOTO EDITOR Peter Ho Davies – a gracious, wise and observant British-born fiction writer – welcomed a question about the title of his most recent work, “The Fortunes.” It won both the Chautauqua Prize and an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award this year. Tentatively called “Tell it Slant,” a reference both to Emily Dickenson and a racial slur against Asians, the edgy title pleased both Davies and his editor. But it gave a large book chain pause. And Davies realized its tone fit just one of the four chapters – short stories in a way – that compose his novel. Davies, clearly attuned to nuance, told an appreciative crowd at the... Read More →

Louise Erdrich Wins Big At National Book Critics Circle Awards, Urges Writers To “Be Fierce And Dangerous About The Truth”

Poet and novelist Louise Erdrich, wiping tears from her eyes, accepted the National Book Critics Circle Award Thursday night for her latest work, LaRose, before a cheering audience at New York’s New School auditorium. LaRose tells of two families linked by tragedy, based on a story Erdrich heard about a gun accident long ago. “And of course the story was only two lines long: ‘A man killed a boy. The man gave up his son to be raised by the other family,’ “Erdrich told Kirkus Reviews. “I never thought I’d write about it, but the story stayed with me.” The book is “an arresting, discerning, nimble novel that takes the entirety of Native American history in its grasp,” said critic Colette Bancroft as she introduced the prize. “Within that destiny, Erdrich is saying... Read More →
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